Davis A. Foulger, Ph. D.

Fall, 2005-Spring, 2006
and Fall 2001-Spring 2003

Your Week in College

(allocating time to get the job done)

I can't make you a good student. All I can do is point to the path that most often leads to success and try to encourage you to be there. The path is well known. One documented statement of it is a Fall, 2002 article in The Choronicle of Higher Education. The prescription remains simple, however. Treat your education as a full time job that takes a bit over 40 hours a week. Spend two hours studying for every hour of scheduled class time. For those of you who don't work, the following diagram gives a sense of how you should be planning to split your time for one of my classes. A week has 168 hours. If you assume 7 hours of sleep a night (a little more than I do), but a good amount and about three hours a day of eating, dressing, and grooming, you can treat school as a full time job by splitting your time evenly between class time, reading and studying time, and paper research and writing. If you do that, a full third of your week is, as can be seen in Figure 1, free time in which you can pursue other activities and perhaps even a job.

Figure 1: Almost a third of your time is available to do whatever you might like when you treat your education as a full time job.
Figure 2: Working full time while in college will leave you very little free time.


Working full time is a bit tougher, but certainly doable. A 40 hour job, including commuting, will eat most of that free time and probably a little bit of your available sleep time, but can still be done. You just won't have much free time left (see Figure 2. I know many people who have followed a disciplined path through full time work and full time school. Most of them had little choice in the matter. Most often they were the only source of support they had as they went through school. In a number of cases, they had families that counted on them. While it may seem odd, I have often found that these students are among the best in my classes. Part of this success is treating the allocation of their time between work and school as a serious planning issue. Part, I suspect, is understanding the value an education is likely to bring to their lives, and they simply won't tolerate putting in less than their best effort.

I want you to do the best you can do both in my courses and throughout your college career. If you have any problems with or questions about how you can better allocate your time for the purposes of optimizing the value of your education, please contact me about it.